Sunday Worship – 7th May 2023

(All our songs this morning are from Singing the Faith (StF) Hymns & Psalms (H&P) or Mission Praise (MP) numbers will be given where available)

Welcome to our Sunday Service, today shared on paper across our circuit and with the congregation at Wilsden Trinity Church and led by Rev Phil Drake, one of our Circuit Ministers.

Click on the blue links to follow them for bible readings and associated links

Today we consider the bricks of the Christian community. We look at words from a letter to some early Christians and explore what the stones were then and reflect on what stones we use today for building up our community of faith.

Call to worship

Grace is God’s gift:
we welcome this gift from the Giver of Life.
Living stones:
build on the Word of Life.
A rock and a fortress:
live in hope through the Spirit of Truth.
Grace is our gift:
to be built on and treasured,
for friend and stranger,
for now and for ever,
a hope for the world!

Song – StF 677 & H&P 485 – Christ is made the sure foundation

Opening prayer

Living God,
a place of refuge and safe travel,
you listen, and create a place for us to be.
To you we commit ourselves,
not just this day, but all days.
All our days are in your hands,
but this day we wait on you:
we wait on your word: your living Word;
we wait on your spirit: your truthful Spirit;
we wait on your life: your Gift.
Fill us with hope as we wait on you this day,
that we might be built up and be strong
and know that we are your holy people.
In the name of Jesus Christ, the Living Stone.


1 Peter 2:4-10

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”[b]
Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”[c]
“A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”[d]
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Food for thought: Living stones

Ruth and I once went to a golden wedding anniversary party at the house of members of the church I was working with in Cardiff. It was lovely to be invited to share in this marker of 50 years of married life together. As we arrived, we noticed something has changed in the garden, because in the middle of it was a drystone wall. Brian had built it himself. For his birthday he was given a gift of going on a day to learn how to build one. And the wall in his garden was the result. He had made a good job of it. The key feature of the wall is that it held together without any mortar. A drystone waller will have to hand all kinds of shapes and sizes of pieces of stone and will work to put them together, so that each one fits snugly and stably next to the others.

It was unusual because you don’t see many dry-stone walls in south Wales, but in our part of the world extensive use is made of them. On the moors and through the dales you can see these limestone walls stretching long distances. Sometimes part of a wall has tumbled over, but for the most part they have stood firm for years, decades, if not centuries, withstanding the elements.

I think that is a good picture of the people of the church. That we come as people of all shapes and sizes – not just physically but in our characters and in our spirituality – and God uses us and puts us together just as we are. We all have our place and our purpose in making sure that the whole wall stands firm. Take one of us away and the wall would be less solid because of it.

The people of the church are like living stones, brought to this place, and built together by God. Like couples in a long-lasting marriage, we are designed for relationship – with one another and with God. The church is solid when its people hold together. And it is the way we fit together, under the guidance and hand of our creator that keeps the wall whole, and ready to serve its purpose.

The first letter of Peter reminds us that it is Christ who holds us together as stones in the wall: that our unity and purpose depends on Christ. Without him, our structure and stability is at risk. When we are out walking in the dales, we might notice that a part of a drystone wall has collapsed, and a gap in the wall has been created. It no longer serves the purpose for which it was designed. The wall needs rebuilding if it is to become effective once again.

There are times in the life of the church when our walls feel unstable. We come through a rocky patch. When we face such difficulties each of us has a part to play. The authorship of the First Letter of Peter might be attributed to the apostle Peter – at the very least it bears his name.

The gospels describe Peter as the (solid) rock, as Jesus says, ‘on you I will build my church’ (Matthew 16); but those same gospels remind us that Peter as a character and as a disciple is also ‘rocky’ (unsteady) – Jesus highlighted Peter’s failings on more than one occasion, emphasising that Peter was more like a stumbling block that a cornerstone.

Peter was reliable, eager, willing, but also denying Jesus and running away at the time of greatest need – he was like a dry stone wall that had fallen over, in need of restoration.

So an important part of being a living stone is to recognise our own failings, where we fall short; but also recognising that we are stronger when we address our failings, find forgiveness in Jesus, and become restored in him. So we turn now to a time of confession as we seek God’s forgiveness and restoration:

Merciful God,
by your calling we are made holy,
yet we know that we do not live up to this holy calling.
Forgive us our harsh words and thoughtless acts.
Forgive us our forgetfulness and pride.
Forgive us our short-sightedness and failure to act.
Forgive us and have mercy on us.

(a time of silence may be kept)

Here are words we can trust:
Christ Jesus came and lived among us,
revealing the truth of God’s love and grace.
Those who had no hope, he called by name.
To those who had lost their way he said ‘Follow me’;
To us, who wait on God’s mercy, he says:
‘You are forgiven’.
Let us learn to forgive ourselves and one another
that we might live the gift of God’s grace!


SongMP 151 – For I’m building a people of power

To think about:

Peter was chosen despite his weaknesses.

  • Have you ever been chosen for anything?
  • How did it feel?
  • How does it feel to be left out or overlooked?
  • Do you feel that God has chosen you? And for what purpose?
  • Reflect on 1 Peter 2.9-10, and give thanks to God that he brings purpose into our lives whatever our shortcomings

Prayers of intercession:

We pray this day for the living stones in your world, O God:
living stones
who speak out, and face persecution;
who stand up and get beaten down;
who stay with the ones whom everyone ignores 
with no thought to their own lives.
O God you are our refuge: let us not be put to shame.

We pray this day for the living stones in your world, O God:
living stones
who work for peace,
whose lives have changed the world;
whose words inspire us all
whose judgement saves us from destruction.
O God you are our refuge: let us not be put to shame.

We pray this day for the living stones in your world, O God:
living stones
who are in all sorts of need at this time:
who are hungry and homeless,
who are lost and alone or sick and bereaved;
living stones whom we love, 
who come to us for help, and who help us.
O God you are our refuge: let us not be put to shame.

Let us hold fast to your promises, and know your call is true.
Let us be strong.
Let us be built up for you that your kingdom will come.

Song – StF 409 – Let us build a house where love can dwell

Acknowledgments: Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Prayers taken from Roots resources, copyright Roots For Churches Ltd. Photo of dry stone wall: Dry Stone Wall by Mick Garratt, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

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